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Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Updated: May 18, 12:14 PM ET
Marquez, Pacquiao may have third fight

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

It looks like Juan Manuel Marquez will get his long-awaited third fight with pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com that he made a deal with Marquez on Tuesday in Los Angeles for the lightweight champion to move up in weight to challenge Pacquiao for his welterweight title on Nov. 12.

Arum, however, still needs to make a deal with Pacquiao -- considered a formality -- before the fight is official.

If the fight is finalized, they would meet at a contract weight of 144 pounds, Arum said. Although the weight is three pounds below the welterweight division limit of 147, that isn't an issue.

"Manny has to eat extra meals just to weigh even 145 pounds," Arum said.

Pacquiao regularly weighs below 147 for his fights, and Marquez would be moving up from the 135-pound division. In 2009, in his only other welterweight fight, Marquez lost a lopsided decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr., who most would like to see Pacquiao face. Most believe it would be the biggest money fight in boxing history, but Mayweather has repeatedly declined the fight.

Barring a gargantuan offer elsewhere, Pacquiao-Marquez Round III will be at Las Vegas' MGM Grand, where Pacquiao-Marquez Round I took place and where Pacquiao scored an easy decision against Shane Mosley on May 7.

With the Pacquiao fight on the line, Arum said Marquez plans to take a tune-up against faded former lightweight titlist David Diaz (36-3-1, 17 KOs) on July 2 in Mexico City. Diaz lost his title to Pacquiao via a lopsided ninth-round knockout in 2008.

Marquez's own promotional company will put the card on, although Arum said Top Rank would help if needed. Arum said Marquez's deal for the Pacquiao bout permitted him an interim fight as long as it takes place by July 17.

"He's going to do that fight, and if he loses, he's out," Arum said.

Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) and Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs) have a rich history, battling twice in action-packed fights that ended in controversial decisions.

In 2004, Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in the first round of their featherweight championship fight, but Marquez battled back to claim a draw that many believed he won. In 2008, they met again for the junior lightweight championship, and Pacquiao won a similarly controversial split decision.

"It's the same old story -- styles make fights, and, for some reason, I believe if we fight Marquez 10 times, we will have controversy 10 times because he's figured something out about Manny that no other fighter can do," Michael Koncz, Pacquiao's adviser, told ESPN.com. "We've had him down three times, but he's able to adapt and adjust. I think it will be a very close fight again if we decide to pick that fight. The question is, what is Manny's monetary reward?"

Mexico's Marquez, 37, has wanted a third fight with Pacquiao for years and is poised to land it because Golden Boy, his longtime promoter, declined to match Top Rank's offer. Marquez's deal with Golden Boy expired earlier this year, but it retained the right to match any offer through February 2012.

Top Rank and Golden Boy, involved in various lawsuits, are bitter rivals. Their bad blood stems from a legal fight over Pacquiao's promotional contract, which Top Rank now controls.

Arum said Golden Boy declined to match his offer to Marquez on Monday during a face-to-face meeting in Los Angeles that included Arum, Top Rank president Todd duBoef and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.

While Arum would not go into details of the meeting, a surprise given the rancor between them, he said of Golden Boy, "They said they would cooperate and not try to interfere. They waived any connection with Marquez and said they would not interfere with us contracting the fight. They let us know that we were free to go ahead. Schaefer let us know. We were with him yesterday.

"He told us we could go ahead with Marquez."

"I can't really talk about anything right now based on the advice of my lawyers," Schaefer told ESPN.com in an email.

Golden Boy apparently was unable to come up with an opponent for Marquez that would meet the terms of Top Rank's offer: $5 million in guaranteed money, upside on the pay-per-view profits and a guaranteed $10 million plus pay-per-view upside for a rematch in the event Marquez wins.

Golden Boy had toyed with offering Marquez a fight with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the Mexican sensation who recently won a junior middleweight belt.

Alvarez, who defends his title in June, has fought most of his career at welterweight. However, with Top Rank's offer specifying 144 pounds, there was no way Alvarez could get down that low.

Arum's next hurdle is to close a deal with Pacquiao, which has never been a problem.

"Marquez is definitely the frontrunner we're looking at, but I have not yet sat down with Bob to discuss our financial deal," Koncz said. "Bob and I will do that this week before I leave to go see Manny in the Philippines on Sunday. I'll talk with Bob and see what his offer for Manny's purse is and all the other things involved, and then I will take that to Manny. I have the parameters from Manny, but Bob and I have not yet had a meeting of the minds.

"Bob has one component for the fight, but he needs two. We have not agreed to the fight or the terms, but we are certainly discussing it. We've always been able to come to an agreement."

Pacquiao's next fight will be on pay-per-view, but it remains to be seen if it will go to Showtime or HBO. Showtime produced and distributed Pacquiao-Mosley after Arum took Pacquiao away from HBO, which had done all of Pacquiao's previous major fights. Showtime got the fight because its sister network, CBS -- which is in roughly 115 million homes -- was heavily involved in the marketing and promotion of the event.

"We will listen to both networks and make our decision based on who is contributing the most valuable assets to the promotion," Arum said. "Who is going to give us the best platform to promote the fight will get the fight."

Arum said the fight almost assuredly will be at the MGM Grand, even though there are overseas venues interested in making offers.

"I've been spending my life with these offers from Singapore, Macau, Dubai," Arum said. "As far as I am concerned the only offer to cash in on are the ones from the MGM and Cowboys Stadium [where Pacquiao fought twice in 2010]."

Arum said the MGM Grand originally told him the Grand Garden Arena was only available on Nov. 5 because there were Eagles concerts booked there on Nov. 12 and Nov. 19.

"I told them, 'You knew we wanted Nov. 12,' " Arum said. "They said, no I didn't, whatever, we went back and forth. Anyway, I am good friends with the manager of the Eagles, Irving Azoff. I've know him for years. So I called him up and told him the issue and he called the band. An hour later, he called back and said no problem.

"He said the band wanted to send us a message -- 'Because we so admire Manny Pacquiao, we would be privileged to move our concert to Nov. 5.' We're going to invite the Eagles to the fight."

Arum said Marquez is the only legitimate option he is looking at for Pacquiao. He mentioned Zab Judah and Timothy Bradley Jr., both junior welterweight titleholders, as alternatives to Marquez immediately after Pacquiao beat Mosley, but he said neither are likely.

"Bradley I cannot talk to because he is still under contract to Gary Shaw, even if he is unhappy," Arum said. "His contract allegedly runs out at a certain point soon, but not yet. So I'm not going to go there. I could make a deal with [Main Events promoter] Kathy Duva for a Judah fight in five minutes, but that is not my plan. If [Pacquiao] wants to explore Judah, I'll explore Judah."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.